Why does Curacao Carnival Burn down Momo and all Reminders of the Festival?
The history of carnival in Curacao dates back to the nineteenth century. The festival is generally attributed to the Christian practice of ‘Carne Levale’ which relates to the practice of giving up meat for the Lenten season. The official Carnival as we know it today began back in 1969 and has evolved into a full-fledged celebration complete with parades and numerous parties.
The most notable among the celebrations is the ‘GRAN MARCHA’ or Grand Parade and the MARCH DI DESPEDIDA or Farewell March on the last day of carnival. The Farewell March has an added magical element with the nighttime floats that are adorned with sparking lights. The march culminates with the burning of the Momo. Momo is a larger-than-life papier-mâché figure who is introduced as the King of the festivities at the onset. He presides over all his subjects as they drink , let loose and just have a good time. Momo symbolizes mischievousness and debauchery so at the farewell march when he is set on fire, it’s a signal to all that as much fun as they have had for the Carnival season, all indulgence has its limits and should be put to an end.
In addition to the parades, patrons of Curacao carnival can also look forward to the Tumba Festival. Similar to the International Soca Monarch in Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival, the tumba festival is a four-day musical event where the best local composers, singers, and bands compete to have their piece selected as the year’s official Carnival road march. The winner of this event is crowned the Rei de Tumba (King of Tumba).
THE FUTURE GENERATION
One other unique element of Curaco’a Carnival is it emphasis on including an often overlooked segment of the Carnival community-teenagers. Carnivals around the world are divided into two unique segments –children and adults. However, in Curacao teenagers are strongly encouraged to have their own tumba contests, their own Queen of Carnival, King, Prince, Helper Pageant elections, and their own parades. In these parades, secondary schools demonstrate their abilities, designing their own costumes and a special dance performance. The first Teen Curaçao Carnival parade takes place the Friday before the adult parade.
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